AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa will take oath as Tamil Nadu chief minister on Saturday after being unanimously elected as the outfit’s legislature party leader, sparking joyous celebrations among supporters in the state.
The 67-year-old former movie star will be sworn in along with 28 ministers after governor K Rosaiah invited her to form the government, following her acquittal in a 19-year-old corruption case that saw her spending three weeks in jail before getting bail.
Bigwigs from the BJP, including Union ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Nitin Gadkari are expected to attend the swearing-in at the Madras University centenary auditorium.
Jayalalithaa was forced to quit as chief minister after she was convicted in a Rs 66.64-crore disproportionate assets case when a Bengaluru trial court sentenced her to four years in jail. The case was overturned by the Karnataka High Court on May 11, paving way for her return as CM.
She stepped out on Friday to cheers from thousands of people who had gathered outside her Poes Garden residence. Minutes earlier, O Panneerselvam had rushed to her residence to show her a letter of unanimous support from party MLAs and resigned.
Party members handed out sweets and erected 20-foot cut-outs as she drove to the governor’s house and onwards to Anna Salai to pay floral tributes to her mentor, MG Ramachandran, former chief minister CN Annadurai and social reformer Periyar.
Panneerselvam also expressed his happiness and used the same phrase she had used to describe her jail stay: “She is gold refined in fire. She broke into pieces all the false cases fabricated by evil forces.”
The AIADMK leader -- called Amma by her supporters -- was charged with amassing illegal wealth in 1997, when police seized assets including 28kg of gold, 750 pairs of shoes and more than 10,000 saris in a raid on her home.
Prosecutors said her assets, which reportedly included two 1,000-acre estates, were vastly disproportionate to her earnings during her first term as chief minister from 1991 to 1996.
The 1996 ostentatious wedding for her foster son and a lavish display of personal wealth proved to her undoing — it evoked revulsion among people and eventually cost her the elections that year. Jayalalithaa has always dismissed the corruption charge as politically motivated.
(With agency inputs)